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Essay by   •  February 9, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,008 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,170 Views

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Autism, it is a terrible disability that affects 1 out of every 166 children. There are more people with autism than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Autism is a multifaceted neurobiological disorder that usually lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and four out of every five people that get autism are male. Autism affects three crucial areas of development: communication, social interaction, and creative or imaginative play. Individuals with autism typically go through routines day after day without any changes. Symptoms can range from quite mild to extremely severe.

The degree of severity of characteristics differs from person to person. The most common are:

* Severe delays in language development. Language is slow to develop, if it develops at all. If it does develop, it usually includes peculiar speech patterns of the use of words without attachment to their normal meaning. Those who are able to use language effectively may still use unusual metaphors or speak in a formal or monotonous voice.

* Severe delays in understanding social relationships. An autistic child often avoids eye contact, resists being picked up, and seems to "tune out" the world around him. This results in a lack of co-operative play with peers, an impaired ability to develop friendships and an inability to understand other people's feelings.

* Inconsistent patterns of sensory responses. A child who has autism may appear at times to be deaf and fail to respond to words or other sounds. At other times, the same child may be extremely distressed by an everyday noise such as a vacuum cleaner or a dog's barking. A child may also show an apparent insensitivity to pain and a lack of responsiveness to cold or heat, or may over-react to any of these.

* Uneven patterns of intellectual functioning. An individual may excel in a particular skill - such as drawing, music, calculations in math, or memorization of facts with no regard to importance or lack of it. On the other hand, the majority of autistic persons have varying degrees of mental retardation, with only 20 percent having average or above-average intelligence. This combination of intellectual variations makes autism particularly perplexing.

* Marked restriction of activity and interests. A person who has autism may perform repetitive body movements, such as hand flicking, twisting, spinning or rocking. The individual may also display repetition by following the same route, the same order of dressing, or the same schedule every day.

The cause for autism is still unknown. Scientists believe that there are several different genes responsible for causing the disorder. The connection between autism and genetic abnormalities has been confirmed by recent studies in the field. It is a fact that mothers with a child affected by autism have increased chances of giving birth to another autistic child. The risk of having a second child with autism is somewhere around three to eight percent. The bottom line is, no one really knows for sure what causes autism. Most experts will say that autism is probably caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Even those experts, though, do not have a definite answer. For many people, this uncertainty is terribly frustrating. Interest in and funding for autism research is on the rise, so new and better information should be forthcoming in the future.

There is no cure for autism; however, with appropriate treatment and education, many children with the disorder can learn and develop. Early intervention often can reduce challenges associated with the disorder, lessen disruptive behavior, and provide some degree of independence. Treatment depends on the individual needs of the patient. In most cases, a combination of treatment methods is more effective. Autism usually requires lifelong treatment. Occupational therapy and physical therapy are sometimes used to treat autism. Occupational therapy helps improve independent function and teaches basic skills (buttoning a shirt, bathing). Physical



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